Greely’s volleyball team erupts in joy after beating Scarborough, 3-1, to win the Class A state title Friday night. The Rangers reversed last year’s result and won their 10th championship.
Mike Strout photos.
Greely senior Kayley Cimino, left, and her teammates show off the latest addition to the program’s overstuffed trophy case.
More photos below.
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GORHAM—Greely’s volleyball team wasn’t quite perfect this fall, but the Rangers came pretty darned close.
And they wound up with an even better designation.
After an interminable three years in the wilderness.
Friday evening at the packed-to-the-gills gymnasium at Gorham High School, the Rangers, the undefeated top seed in Class A, squared off against No. 2 Scarborough, the defending state champion, with a Gold Ball on the line and the state’s two best teams put on quite a show.
Greely, thanks to the serving and passing of sophomore Morgan Selby, terrific saves from junior libero Coco Petrone and the hitting and passing of senior standout Kayley Cimino, won a first set it never trailed, 25-20.
The second game was much easier for the Rangers, who rode a remarkable 16-point service run from Cimino to a 25-8 victory, avoiding last year’s fate when they won the first set, but lost the next three.
Scarborough refused to go quietly, however, leading almost the entire way in the third set, fending off a Greely rally and keeping the match alive with a 25-18 victory, thanks to five service points and three kills from senior Kacey Foerster.
The Rangers knew a fourth set loss would give the Red Storm momentum they might not be able to counter, so Greely made sure to avoid that eventuality.
The Rangers went on top to stay at 11-10 and opened up a seemingly safe 20-14 lead on a Cimino kill, but back came Scarborough, pulling within 20-19. The next point was pivotal, as the Red Storm twice had great looks to tie the score, but Greely junior Sara Agren blocked both and a Cimino kill restored order. Cimino added an ace and the Rangers went on to a 25-20 victory, ending the match when Scarborough couldn’t hit the ball over the net and in four games, Greely became champion.
Cimino left no doubt that she’s the state’s finest all-around player, as she produced 15 kills, 11 assists and 18 service points, several other players came up huge and the Rangers finished 17-0, won their 10th state title in 12 tries and ended Scarborough’s superb season at 16-2 in the process.
“It means a lot,” Cimino said. “This was my last high school game ever. After four years, we finally pulled it off and I couldn’t be happier right now. To go out as a champion is unreal.”
Last Oct. 31, Scarborough earned the treat of its first state title, capping a stirring run from the No. 5 seed by upsetting Greely in four sets (20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-22).
This Rangers’ title quest began from the ashes of that agonizing setback.
“That night, I was determined to get back to states and win it this year,” Cimino said.
Greely has been the team to beat in 2016, blanking Scarborough in the opener (25-22, 25-15, 25-15), then winning its final 13 matches by 3-0 scores to become the first team to ever go through a regular season without surrendering a single set (see sidebar, below, for previous stories).
The Rangers had to take a different approach, but it worked.
“From day one, the girls asked me why I was changing everything and I said, ‘Obviously, it’s not working any more and I’m tired of losing,'” said longtime Greely coach Kelvin Hasch. “The girls stuck with me and we did a lot of different things. We had a different practice. We didn’t have an assistant coach. I hired a trainer for them. We trained twice a week for 45 minutes.”
The Rangers finished first in Class A and after earning a preliminary round bye, Greely downed No. 9 Gorham, 3-1 (losing the third set to end its run at 44 in a row), in the quarterfinals and rallying after dropping the first set to Falmouth in Wednesday’s semifinals to prevail, 3-1, and reach its 12th state final since 2002.
The Red Storm weren’t down for long after losing to Greely in their opener, turning around and winning 13 straight matches to close the regular season.
As the No. 2 seed, Scarborough quickly dispatched No. 15 Marshwood in three sets in the preliminary round, then swept No. 7 Bonny Eagle in the quarterfinals. Wednesday, in the semis, the Red Storm dropped the first set to No. 6 Yarmouth, then won the next three to reach their fourth state match in six seasons (see sidebar, below, for previous results).
The teams had met twice before in the biggest match of the season, as Greely took the 2011 title in four sets and Scarborough returned the favor last fall. Last year’s result gave the Red Storm a 1-2 all-time record at states and dropped the Rangers’ mark to 9-2.
Something had to give Friday and in front of a raucous full house (and then some), Scarborough ceded the Gold Ball to Greely.
After Greely junior Lizzie Brown sang a rousing rendition of the national anthem, the Rangers got the jump in the first set.
Greely got the first three points, highlighted by an ace from Selby. A Cimino kill made it 6-2 and the Rangers opened it up to 9-4 before Red Storm coach Jon Roberts called timeout and behind a kill from freshman Asia Mattress, another point and a kill from senior Jordyn Cowan, Scarborough drew within two. Chapin turned things around by first denying a Cowan kill attempt, then producing a kill of her own. The next four points went to Greely as well, punctuated by a Chapin kill after a nice save from Petrone.
“It’s pretty tough playing defense, but if you know where you’re going and see where their shoulders are, it’s easier,” Petrone said.
“Coco picked up so many balls tonight,” Chapin said. “I’m so proud of her. She’s worked so hard all season long.”
A block, followed by an ace by senior Haley Nelson, cut the Red Storm’s deficit to 17-13, but a service fault and another point made it 19-13. Scarborough tried again to rally, pulling within 20-16 on a kill from senior Jill Harvie (after a great diving save from senior defensive specialist Emma Budway) and a Mattress ace. A Nelson block made it 21-18, but Hasch called timeout, a Chapin kill punctuated a long point and the Rangers got the next point as well to make it 23-18. Consecutive kills from Cowan again drew Scarborough within three, but Greely got the next point and after a Red Storm timeout, a Scarborough violation gave the Rangers the first set, 25-20.
“We were worried about the first set,” Chapin said. “It’s huge to come out strong. We had a huge fan section. It was so awesome to see so many people come out for volleyball.”
“Good things come when you get them prepared,” Hasch said. “I told them in the locker room, ‘We need to take the first set.’ We worked on playing smart and keeping the ball on the court and they did it.”
In that first game, Selby had four service points and four assists, Cimino hit and set with equal ability (three kills, three assists) and Petrone had four service points and multiple digs.
The Red Storm got three kills and two blocks from Cowan, two kills and two blocks from Nelson, three kills from Mattress and four assists from senior Libby Chadbourne, but it wasn’t enough.
Greely then made quick work of Scarborough in the second set, as Cimino got to the service line and refused to leave.
A kill from Chapin got things started, but Harvie countered with a kill. A block from Mattress was followed by another point to give the Red Storm their first lead of the match, 4-3. Nelson added an ace, but things quickly turned.
After the Rangers won the next point, Cimino stepped to the service line.
When she was done, a 5-4 deficit turned into a 20-5 lead.
Cimino wasn’t crushing the ball, or putting it in places Scarborough couldn’t reach. Instead, she just put the ball in play and the Red Storm either hit the ball out, or Greely made plays.
A block from Selby tied the score and a kill from Agren gave the Rangers the lead for good. On the next point, Cimino went from the service line to the net, acted like she was going to set the ball, then redirected it over the net and caught Scarborough off guard for a 7-5 lead. After an Agren kill, the Red Storm twice hit the ball out, forcing Roberts to call timeout. It didn’t help, as Greely continued to open things up and two Cimino aces ended the competitive phase of the set.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” Cimino said. “Our goal tonight was just to serve deep and they weren’t doing great on their serve receive on those shots.”
“I’m so proud of her for keeping that going,” Petrone said. “That was awesome.”
“We had a game plan of serving it long,” Hasch added. “The few we missed didn’t hit the net, they went out of bounds. We like those runs. They’re a good thing.”
The lead reached 15 before a Cimino fault finally ended Scarborough’s nightmare.
“I don’t even think it was a service run,” Roberts said. “It was us making weird decisions, not getting the right people involved. She didn’t ace us, we just weren’t doing what we should have been doing.”
After giving up one point, Greely got the next three, sparked by a Selby kill. The Red Storm got a kill from senior Raegan Sheil and another point, but a service fault and a violation gave the Rangers the 25-8 set victory.
Cimino not only dazzled with her 16 service points, including two aces, she also had four assists and a kill as Greely crept closer to the title.
Scarborough roared to life in the third set to extend the match.
The Rangers led, 1-0, and were tied, 1-1, 2-2 and 4-4, but a Mattress kill put the Red Storm on top for good. A Foerster kill, a Mattress ace and another point made it 8-4. After Greely got a point back, Mattress had a kill and a block and after a Hasch timeout, Foerster completed a service run with an ace to make it 13-5. The Rangers tried to rally, drawing within 14-9, but a kill from senior Aubrey Humpage and a Cowan block restored order and sparked a run that produced a 19-10 lead after successive aces from senior Abby Snow. After Scarborough won a long point to go up, 20-12, play was delayed for over 10 minutes as Hasch challenged the rotation and the officials had to consult for an interminable amount of time.
Trying to keep his team loose, Roberts played to the Red Storm student section when they started singing “Don’t Stop Believin.’
Scarborough didn’t stop believing and after play resumed, fought off the expected Greely rally.
A Cimino kill and another from Agren cut the deficit to 21-16. An Agren block had the Rangers within 23-18, but a soft kill from Humpage put the Red Storm on the brink and on the next point, a Greely miscommunication allowed the ball to drop and gave Scarborough the third game, 25-18.
“We’re family and we pick each other up when we’re down,” Foerster said. “That’s what Scarborough volleyball is all about. We had our heads in the game. We wanted it so badly.”
“I thought the third set had a lot of interesting things happen,” Roberts said. “I thought our kids were mentally tough. We had to find a way to score. I’m proud that the girls found a different way to score. The third game is always the hardest one to win. It was nice to push it to game four.”
Foerster had five service points and five kills and Mattress two kills and a block to keep the Red Storm’s repeat title hopes alive.
The Rangers knew the importance of the fourth set, but didn’t tighten up.
“We knew they’d come back and we knew we wouldn’t win in three sets, so that set meant nothing,” Cimino said. “We wanted to finish it. We came out even harder in the fourth set. We were tired, but we would have been even more tired in a fifth set. We had to bear down.”
“That was a tough set to lose,” Chapin said. “We got down on ourselves a little bit, but we stuck together.”
“I’ve told them all year we haven’t won anything even when we had two sets,” Hasch added. “I said, ‘They won a set, so what? Let’s take this one away from them.’ I think the knife was most of the way in. We just had to twist it.”
The fourth game would be close throughout, but Greely made more plays.
A kill from secret weapon sophomore Emma Spoerri got the Rangers started. After Scarborough went up, 2-1, Cimino had a kill and after another point, Agren added a kill to make it 4-2. The Red Storm tied the game at 5-5 on a Mattress block, then went ahead, 7-5, on another Mattress block, but a Cimino kill and a Selby kill tied it and a block by Spoerri put Greely on top. A Mattress kill followed by a kill by Humpage put Scarborough ahead for the last time, 10-9.
A Spoerri block then started a 5-0 run and even though Roberts called timeout, Greely was up, 14-10. The Red Storm crept back to 15-13, but Chapin countered with a kill and after another point, Cimino had a kill to stretch the lead to five, forcing Roberts to take his final timeout.
A Cimino kill after a long point put the Rangers up, 20-14, but Foerster countered with a kill, Scarborough two more points, Foerster had a block and after a Hasch timeout, Greely couldn’t get the ball over the net and the Red Storm were only down a point, 20-19.
That set up the most pivotal point of the match.
Twice Scarborough appeared to have a set-tying kill, but Agren denied them both and Selby set up Cimino for a kill and a 21-19 lead.
“When we needed it at the end, I told Morgan, ‘Set Kayley every chance you get,'” Hasch said.
Cimino then served up an ace.
Mattress countered with a kill, but that would be the Red Storm’s final point.
Scarborough hit the next two points out and that set then stage for the clincher.
The Red Storm handled Agren’s serve, but couldn’t get the ball over and at 8:54 p.m., Greely had a 25-20 fourth set victory, a 3-1 match win and was finally back atop the volleyball world.
“This is the most incredible feeling,” Chapin said. “There’s no way to describe it. It’s such a great team. I’m so proud of how we’ve grown all season. All my teammates are amazing. Scarborough is an incredible team, so it took a lot of effort and staying together mentally to win. We know the legacy of Greely. We tried not to let it affect how we played tonight. I’m so proud to contribute to the legacy.”
“I’m so excited, it feels great,” Petrone said. “We worked so hard this season and I’m so happy we won. We do well under pressure. We have players who got the team excited and that got us back on track. I’m so glad so many people came out and supported us.”
“We talked about how to play in these kinds of matches, not losing our head,” Hasch added. “I beat that into them all along this season.”
Cimino had the most prolific game stat-wise, producing 15 kills, adding 11 assists and serving 18 points.
“Kayley is incredible,” Chapin said. “She’s worked hard all season long.”
Selby, who came to the program this season, had 17 assists and five service points.
“Morgan was a great surprise,” said Cimino. “Originally, I wasn’t going to be hitting this season and I was worried, but she showed up from Colorado.”
Chapin had six kills and five service points.
“I don’t think I had a great match, but everyone else contributed,” Chapin said.
Agren added seven kills, six service points and four blocks. Petrone had eight service points, Grandchamp finished with six service points and Spoerri added two blocks and a kill.
Scarborough was led by Mattress, who had seven kills and four blocks, and Chadbourne, who had 10 assists. Nelson finished with 10 service points, four kills and two blocks, Foerster had six kills and four service points, Cowan five kills and four blocks, Goodwin eight assists, senior Lilly Young six assists and Harvie four kills.
“Jill played the most fearless of anybody,” Roberts said. “I thought Asia played really well. If I wrote the script, I wouldn’t have put that much pressure on her. She stepped up. Kacey played really well at the end of the match.”
The Red Storm saw their 16-game win streak come to an end.
“At the end of the day, our goal was to come to states,” Foerster said. “I’m proud of our team. We focused on working on our goals. We worked hard. We played every ball like it was our last. I’m so proud of where we’ve come. Fourteen seniors carried the team to states this year.”
“Greely was just a better team,” Roberts said. “We were tentative and they were aggressive and whoever is aggressive in a state final usually wins. We clearly weren’t and they were clearly better. They played great defense. The ball never hit the floor and our hitters weren’t in rhythm. It would have been nice to see a game five, but we didn’t make adjustments. Kayley kept doing the same thing.
“I’m super-proud of my kids. I told them that one night doesn’t define our season. Maybe if we played again tomorrow, it would be a different story. I hate to say we were happy to be here. We wanted a chance. I wanted the kids to have a chance to compete. I just think Greely wanted it more. Kayley is such a great player and Molly too. They had a lot of motivation. They earned it. They had a great season.
“This has been a special group for me. I’m more upset about losing them than losing a game. They’ve become family. That’s why people are crying. We wanted to win, but the realization that we don’t have practice Monday is what hurts. All teams have that and we were lucky to be in the last game. I’ll miss the time with the kids. We’re losing so many great kids. I have two seniors who played varsity as freshmen and they went to state three times for four years. This year’s experience will be valuable for those who are coming back.”
Greely will look to win it all again next fall, but it will have to do so without some special seniors.
Cimino, bound to play volleyball at Springfield College in Massachusetts, will depart as perhaps the finest player in program history.
“I think (Kayley’s) right up there with (former standout) Amanda Gray, probably a little better,” Hasch said. “Her quickness and knowledge of the game sets her apart. She can read a ball and get to the ball.”
Chapin, Brinna Snow and Julia Stinneford also depart.
“I’m so happy the seniors could win,” Petrone said. “I learned so much from them. They were great motivators. I’ll miss them.”
“All the seniors, even the ones who didn’t play much, were huge,” said Hasch. “They all played so hard in practice. I’m so proud of them.”
Looking ahead to 2017, the Rangers will start with Agren, Grandchamp, junior Olivia Murley, Petrone, Selby and Spoerri. Look for others to step up as well and lead Greely deep into the playoffs again.
That’s just what this nonpareil program does.
“We’ll have to work hard, but we can do it if we try hard enough,” Petrone said. “We have some good players coming back.”
“I think we always turn over kids,” Hasch said. “I have a crop of 15 freshmen coming in, so I think the talent will still be there.”
Greely senior Kayley Cimino registers one of her 15 kills.
Greely junior Coco Petrone handles a shot. Petrone came up with several timely digs.
Scarborough freshman Asia Mattress sends a kill over Greely junior Olivia Murley.
Scarborough senior Emma Budway handles a shot.
Greely sophomore Morgan Selby blocks the shot of Scarborough junior Natalie Simonton.
Scarborough senior Kacey Foerster goes up for a kill.
Greely senior Molly Chapin goes for a kill as Scarborough junior Natalie Simonton defends.
Greely junior Sara Agren digs out a ball as junior Olivia Murley also goes for it.
Scarborough senior Jordyn Cowan handles a shot.
Greely junior Olivia Murley celebrates a point.
Greely senior Kayley Cimino jumps for joy after a point.
Scarborough senior Caroline Goodwin exults after a point.
Scarborough seniors Kacey Foerster, left, and Caroline Goodwin show off the runner-up trophy.
Greely’s fan section had a lot to cheer about Friday.
Scarborough’s student section also brought the noise.
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